If It Walks Like a Duck and Quacks Like a Duck, It Might Need Rescuing
Haddonfield patrolmen deliver a warm and fuzzy, feel-good moment. Literally.
HADDONFIELD, NJ -- Last Sunday, a local police officer came to the rescue of a quartet of mallard ducklings that fell through a storm sewer grate on a leafy street on his beat.
If he’s not careful, officer Stu Holloway is going to get a reputation. He breathed life back into an unresponsive infant in January, an act her tearful parents said saved her life. One of his commanding officers said he’d rescue a Beanie Baby if it were in trouble.
His daring deeds haven't yet elevated him to the level of, say, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who once pulled people out of a burning building, but Holloway's local heroics are starting to get him notice.
"We're here to do a job and if we can come up with some ingenuity to rescue four ducks in a sewer grate or go in and save somebody's life, we're going to do what we can," said Holloway, a 12-year Haddonfield police veteran.
Holloway teamed with veteran patrolman Robert Shreve for the duck rescue in Haddonfield. In fact, it was Shreve who descended down a 6-foot ladder stair into the sewer to retrieve the ducklings. It was no easy feat for Shreve, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound 17-year veteran.
"That's what makes this job," Shreve said. "You just never know what you're going to come across."
Cindi Train, a resident of Station Avenue, near Chews Landing Road, said she saw the entire duck rescue in front of her home. She said the image that sticks with her is seeing Shreve and Holloway gently cradling the ducklings until they were reunited with their wayward mother.
"They are big guys, but they were sweet and tender with the ducklings," she said.
Train provided a bucket for them to hoist the ducklings out of the sewer. She said a neighbor called police when she noticed the ducklings disappearing through the sewer grate while driving by. Shreve arrived first, then Holloway.
"Instead of wasting some time waiting for animal control, we decided we were going to pick up the sewer grate," Holloway said. "Officer Shreve was the short straw so he went down. It was one that was a little bit tough to get, so Bob is pretty good at some duck calls. He made a couple of calls and whistles and here comes the little chick out waddling from one side to the other and we caught the last remaining one."
Shreve credits his grandfather for teaching him bird whistles. But, it was a team effort.
Neighbors helped by keeping the mother duck, who had several other ducklings with her, away from the rescue. The frantic mother was originally walking her brood across the street when one of her ducklings fell through the grate, Train and the officers said. When the mother tried to rescue the first duckling that fell through, others following her fell through, as well.
Once the ducklings were pulled from the sewer, the rescuers gently guided them back to their waiting mother and siblings in nearby brush.
"You could hear the mother calling and the chicks responding," Shreve said, and then joked, "I kept hearing the Peaches & Herb song "Reunited...and it feels so good..."